Over the last few years, I never really struggled with my Goodreads Challenge. The number was always achievable based on how I anticipated my life going in that calendar year, or how ~into~ blogging and reading I was at the time. I was 13 books ahead for most of 2016 because I binge-listened to the Series of Unfortunate Events on audio. It gave me so much wiggle room during the months I didn’t read as much. I even wrote a post about how I always get ahead on my goal and maintain it throughout the year.
However, this year has been a struggle. Last year was a bit of a struggle too. I can’t motivate myself to read nearly as much as I used to. The saddest part of all this too is that I’ve LOWERED my Goodreads challenge over the past few years because I wanted to feel less pressure to read and achieve some balance in my hobbies. My current issue is that I feel like I have too many other interests right now – I don’t dedicate time to reading in the same way that I used to. There are a lot of different factors and potential reasons why, so I thought I would chat about my life at the moment and be honest with myself about my reading life.
I’m currently (at the time of writing this post) two books behind on my challenge and it’s all too familiar at this point. I know things like this aren’t a big deal and I could always lower my challenge, but honestly its the principle of the thing. I set out to achieve this goal – an even lower goal than ever before – and I’m struggling to stay on track for it. I thought 10 books a month would be so easy, especially because I usually would bang out between from 2-4 audiobooks each month as it is, thanks to my commute and “getting ready” time in the morning. Moving back to my home state, commuting to the office again instead of working from home, and spending more time relaxing on my porch SHOULD have meant more reading time, or at least a nice and manageable amount. Ten books a month meant 2-3 books a week and that was formerly not an issue at all. 2018 was supposed to be a chill year for reading and other hobbies, with such a “small” reading challenge for me. I started my blog in 2014 and set my challenge at 20 books long before. Mid-way through the year through the end, I read around 80 books. I figured I could definitely handle 175 books the following year… and then I read 180. I decided it was a little overwhelming and reduced it to 160 for 2016, which I technically surpassed by one book. It was pretty manageable all year, but again – I wanted less reading time and more balance for things like Lego or hiking. I read 150 books and it was a bit harder to keep up, due to the move, but I pulled it out in the end. I worked from home and technically had more free time without spending a total of 45-60 minutes commuting.
You can see below how my reading has fluctuted because of my game of catch-up. I get ahead one month, fall behind the next because I hustled, get ahead or meet the goal in the next month, then fall behind again… This cycle has repeated most of 2018:
The reading challenge tracker below shows what the challenge number should be at the end of the month (goal) versus what it is based on my reading. You’ll see I was ahead or on time for the first few months of the year, and then was constantly behind. I finally got on track by the end of September. There are a lot of reasons why my reading took a turn from June onwards…
Yes, I’m going to blame a good portion of it on the move and settling.
We moved back to Connecticut in late June, after having a trip to California, packing up the apartment, and planning everything out. I had a feeling my reading would take a nosedive as we prepared to go everywhere, which is why I got nicely ahead throughout the earlier months. You can literally see me fall behind starting in June and beyond. We finished exploring Portland, went on our trip, moved back, and explored our new area for a few months. My reading time of physical books dwindled because we were doing a lot of organizing and traveling to new places.
I have more “hobbies” at the moment.
One of the things that started taking up some time was YouTube. For some reason, I started to get back into beauty YouTube videos and eventually Shane Dawson and friends. I spend a lot of time watching these videos even in times where I’m not buying a lot of makeup. Chris and I watch a lot of wrestling each week (so much that we don’t even watch TV shows that much, which is a whoooole other thing) and I do try to read while we watch. It’s like on Sundays during the non-Panthers games – I can sit and read a book while watching the games. I used to do a lot of this, but I find myself aimlessly scrolling too. Either way, I’m not reading when I usually would read, and that’s either from a new hobby like watching YouTube or catching up on Netflix, or I’m just getting addicted to my phone for no reason.
I’m still generally reaching for podcasts instead of audiobooks.
I subscribe to a lot of podcasts. Many of them are on hiatuses or in between seasons, but there are a lot that come out weekly. I always like to listen ASAP while I shower and get ready for the day, as well as when I drive around. This definitely cuts into my audiobook time… especially because I started watching Netflix while I put makeup on instead of listening to an audiobook. Sigh.
I’m enjoying blogging more than reading.
This blog was made for writing reviews and, later on, about sharing even more insights on books (discussions, memes, challenges, tags, features, etc.). I started to add more and more personal, non-bookish posts over the years and have really liked that part of my blog lately. I enjoy thinking of new ideas I can talk about that hopefully people will be interested in, even if they’re more “lifestyle blog”-oriented.
Develop a schedule for my hobbies (yes I know this is lame)
Between audiobooks, podcasts, regular books, Netflix, and YouTube, I really need to allocate my time better. I need to focus on what’s important and what isn’t. Just because I love Nikkia’s YouTube videos doesn’t mean I NEED to watch her review of a product I’m 90% sure I won’t buy or care about. I don’t have to watch every single creator I love when they post something. I’d love to, but it’s not feasible. Tati posts 5 times per week and I already cut back to just the topics I’m interested in; I should do that with everyone. I DIGRESS. The thing is, there probably ARE enough hours to do all the things I wanna do.
First thing in the morning:
I try to wake up early and have some ~me time~ before I have to hop in the shower. Lately it’s been short (like 15-30 minutes) but in a perfect world it would be more like 60-90 minutes. I used to use THIS time for either reading or TV watching, so it would be good to get into that habit again.
During shower, getting ready/makeup, and commutes:
For my dedicated weekly podcast (Wrestletalk), I listen on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. They have a shorter episode on Saturdays that I can usually bang out when driving or first thing Monday morning. Other shows that are *currently* coming out, like Serial on Thursdays and Up and Vanished on Mondays, are mixed in between on those days. I really should make it a point to not get sucked in to other podcasts as much and try to have an audiobook ready for “off days” of listening. It looks like the three middle days of the week are for podcast episodes mostly and Monday/Friday could be for audiobook listening. This depends on the time of day certain episodes come out, but you get the idea.
During my makeup process, I’m usually able to get an episode of something in. This is currently my “fall TV” lineup, like catching up on Riverdale and watching Total Divas or The Good Place when they come out each week. It’ll be good to catch up on Riverdale soon so I won’t feel compelled to ONLY watch that one too.
I’m always trying to sneak in as much as possible after work and it’s kind of a problem. I’ll watch YouTube and Netflix before bed instead of reading, but I do TRY to read if Chris and I are watching wrestling together. I should make it a goal to limit my screen time and read a certain amount each night, or turn the screen off by a certain time and switch to my Kindle’s book-like screen.
For some reason, weekends are for reading. I’m able to bring my book along if Chris goes to a skate park (where I wouldn’t watch a show or something), I’ll read first thing in the morning with my coffee, or read throughout the day on the couch during other shows/PPVs. It always ends up that I’m two books behind by Friday… only to finish the two books I’m currently reading over the weekend and repeat the cycle. There isn’t anything WRONG with this but it would be nice to read more throughout the week.
Cut back on the social media scrolling
I like to keep up to date on what my friends are doing, but I need to stop scrolling ALL the time. It does take more effort and energy to read a book while football or wrestling is on in the background, but I’m always so much happier than falling down the social media black hole. I should limit my time and figure out when I’m “allowed” to scroll and catch up versus when I could be doing other things.
Overall, I think I just need to find a better balance with all of my hobbies again. I can’t let certain things overtake my time. I love reading while I’m doing it, but it’s been taking more effort to get in the mood to read. Hopefully I can work out a happy medium between everything I love.